Strange! Two films that released in the same (festival) week have sombre scenes of action that are strikingly similar! When Vizha (U) opens with a death and a dirge you resign yourself to another take-off on mortality. But the difference is that Bharati Balakumaran, the director, has eschewed crudeness in his treatment of the story that is more about the love that blossoms between a man who beats the traditional drum (thappu) at funerals and a girl who sings sorrowful songs on such dreary occasions.
Oblivious to the lament going on around them, their love grows. There’s no gore — most of the time situations play the villain, not any one in particular. Vizha doesn’t have a predictable villain.
Should reality always mean grime and sweat, heat and dust? And should going back to the roots always include grief and mourning, bloodshed and tragedy? Not completely, Balakumaran seems to say, because amidst the din and howls of tragedy, he has woven in some intelligent humour. He laughs at the foibles of village folk and in the process evokes smiles in the viewer. Even ‘Kaadhal’ Dandapani, a regular villain in films, makes you laugh when he is flummoxed by the information on social networking sites! His final statement in the climax is truly funny — an example of healthy comedy.
Mahendran, who was seen in several films as a child actor, turns hero with Vizha and impresses with spontaneous underplay. Surprisingly you don’t see any unbelievable display of heroism! It is one of those rare occasions in our cinema when another character is allowed to fight the baddies single-handed, while the hero looks helpless. Of course, his turn does come later. Balakumaran deserves to be commended for deviating from the norm. Inspired by the short film, Uthiri, which garnered honour and accolades, Vizha is a tale of love that is nurtured under unusual circumstances.
Malavika Menon is paired with Mahendran. She has enough scope to perform, and she does. Singer-actor-television host Yugendran comes back after a hiatus to strike a chord with the viewer, proving that he’s an apt choice for the dignified role of Manimaran, a man with a rigid exterior and a helping heart.
Some of the lilting bits in the background score make you go back to the name of the composer — it’s James Vasanthan.
You get to watch a murder, an accidental death and plenty of mourning, yet thankfully, Vizha isn’t as gruesome as you expect it to be, because it also has love and levity alongside.
But why is it called Vizha?
Director: Bharati Balakumaran
Cast: Mahendran, Malavika Menon, Yugendran
Storyline: Two youngsters, whose jobs revolve around funerals, meet and fall in love
Bottomline: Deaths and dirges sprinkled with romance and humour